My Pandemic Kid and the Lion King
Luke, my 5 year old honey badger, was 3 when the world shut down. Now, I am not going to lie and say that we did so many things as a family before COVID took over. The truth is, my husband and I are introverts, lead very busy lives, and are tired 100% of the time. So, the thought of piling our insanely energetic family into the car and going out in public is enough to keep us inside. Of course, we do the park and children’s museums but that is about the extent of it. Luke has never been to the movies, doesn’t go with me to the grocery store, and calls Target the “Gift Shop” because he only goes there when we have to buy a present for someone’s birthday and I want him to help me pick it out.
That’s why, when The Lion King came to our hometown, I knew it was time. First, let me promise you that the Lion King is Luke’s favorite movie. We watch the Lion Guard on Disney+ (seasons 1-3) at least once a week and he has a stuffed lion that he sleeps with at night. This was it. This was the time.
We spent the weekend before the play watching YouTube videos of the performance so he could be prepared for the puppets and the sounds. We went over all of the rules about not talking during the play and trying to keep our bodies still for 2 and a half hours. We made sure his belly was full and I snuck water in just in case he got thirsty. I even bought him a baby Simba stuffed animal at the tune of $42 so he could have something to hold onto when the lights went dark. We were ready.
What I wasn’t ready for was the sparkle in his eyes and the amazement that took over once those animals started coming down the aisles. I have an amazing friend who works for one of the sponsors of the theater. She was able to help me get incredible orchestra level seats, just a few rows back from the stage, on the aisle. Luke was close to coming out of his skin he was so excited.
He leaned over to me after about an hour and whispered, “Mommy, I am loving this!” and I melted. He pointed at the actors, clapped after every song, and, despite the conversations about calming our bodies, he wiggled and squirmed with excitement the entire play. I also had to keep asking him to stop lifting his stuffed Simba into the air and whisper-yelling “It is time!”
During the intermission, he was “starving” so we fought the crowds out to the concession to buy a cookie. Of course, because it is Luke, he fell on the way out of our seats and banged his head on the railing. He was fine but we had to talk about being careful even if we are excited. We made our way through all the very long lines, waited behind people that just couldn’t figure out what they wanted, and the announcement came on that we had to get back to our seats or they were going to lock us out for the first bit of the 2nd act. We grabbed our cookies and ran back to our seats, trying not to fall again. We made it.
About 10 minutes into the 2nd act, he leans over again, puts his hand on my hand and says, “Mommy, I think these are real people.” I almost cried it was so sweet. The whole way home he was beaming and we had to go home and turn on Lion Guard before he fell asleep. He was still talking about it this morning on his way to school. I am so glad we did this. It was exhausting but it is a memory I needed and I am glad Luke has it too.
Worst Day Ever
Last week was Noah’s 6th birthday. He’s been talking about his birthday since the day after his 5th birthday last year so, needless to say, he’s been pretty excited as we approached the big day. The problem with this birthday, however, (and with every birthday for him from now until forever) is that his little brother’s birthday is 5 days before his.
Obviously, this is entirely my fault and it has ruined his life.
The Saturday before his birthday, we threw a huge party at our house for his little brother, Luke. It was Luke’s very first birthday so it was kind of a big deal. I invited the entire family from out of town. I also, because I know this is tough on Noah, made sure to invite several kids Noah’s age so that he would have kids to play with while we celebrated his baby brother.
On Sunday, I had all of the out-of-town family over for a special “family party” just for Noah. We swam, opened presents, ate pizza, and decorated Batman cupcakes. When all of the family had to leave, Noah declared that this was “the worst birthday ever.”
Shake it off. He’s tired and full of cake. He expected a giant party at a trampoline park with all of his friends. Fine. This will happen eventually. But, he has an early August birthday. It is damn near impossible to round up all of the friends that he wants. I promised him a party in September after school starts. “It will stretch your birthday out a whole month!” I promised. This did not do much to soothe his miserable heart.
On Wednesday, his actual birthday comes around. I divided up his presents so he would have some to open before he heads off to camp and some to open at his birthday dinner that night.
He opens the first present. As he’s tearing the paper, I realize I don’t have my phone. I wanted to take a picture. I run into the other room to grab my phone out of my purse, turn around quickly to snap a photo, and BAM. I smash my phone into Noah’s mouth, almost knocking his loose front tooth out. Cue the blood. Cue the tears.
He had run up to me to give me a hug and tell me thank you. And I (basically) smacked him the face for it. Best mom ever.
After the tears were dried, the blood wiped up, and the rest of the presents opened, he asked me where the cupcakes were to take to his summer camp class. DAMMIT!! It never even occurred to me to send cupcakes to summer camp. Awesome mom award goes to me.
Okay, no biggie. I’ll send cupcakes on Friday.
To make up for it, I threw a handful of suckers in his lunch box and told him he could share them with his friends at lunch. Did I count the suckers to make sure there were enough for everyone? Nope. Did he hand them out to a few friends, only to have several friends mad at him and then not have any left over for himself? Yep. Was he crying when I picked him up from camp? Of course he was.
It’s official. I am the world’s greatest mother.
Okay. I will redeem myself at dinner. That night, Noah had specifically requested to go out to eat where he could order waffles. Awesome. We went to a local breakfast joint that serves excellent waffles. Halfway through dinner, Noah stops eating. When I ask him what’s wrong, he whispers in my ear that he has to poop and we need to leave the restaurant “right now!” Noah doesn’t poop in public bathrooms so, back home we go.
I will do better next year. I don’t know if it is possible to make it any worse. Happy birthday Noah!
Just this past weekend, I pulled out Noah’s first tooth. I got a little sentimental as this was my first baby’s first lost tooth. The tooth fairy came and brought Noah a dollar. All was well with the world.
Then, this past Tuesday, we were in our hectic after work/after school craziness. I was rushing to get the baby fed before I had to go back out to see clients, Matt was scarfing down dinner because he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat while watching both kids, and Noah was running around pretending to be a cheetah. Standard Tuesday night.
Apparently, pretending to be a cheetah involves running around on all fours and picking things up with your teeth. Some of the things that this particular cheetah needed to pick up with his teeth were the throw pillows on the couch.
Also, as a cheetah, when you pick up a throw pillow with your teeth, you must thrash about with the pillow in your mouth.
Naturally, as does happen when you thrash about with a throw pillow in your mouth, the pillow is bound to come loose, fly across the room, and nearly rip out another baby tooth from a 5 year old cheetah’s mouth.
Noah’s crying and holding his mouth, blood dripping everywhere. I put Luke down, and try to get Noah to the bathroom so we can clean up the blood and I can assess the situation. [Noah, however, is too concerned with trying to find a mirror so he can look at all of the blood in his mouth first.] Tooth is still intact, very loose, but intact.
I clean up the blood, Noah rinses his mouth out until the tooth stops bleeding, I give him strict instructions to leave the tooth alone, and I go to work.
The next day, when Noah gets home from school:
NOAH, in a dreary voice: “I pulled my tooth out today.”
ME: “Awesome buddy! Where is it?”
NOAH: “Elijah accidentally knocked it out of my hand.” Still, super sad-sounding.
ME: “Oh no! Did your teacher find it?”
NOAH: “Yes. It’s in this baggy. But I don’t think that’s my tooth.”
Noah hands me the baggy and, inside it, is 2 tiny bits of white plastic. First of all, baby teeth are gross and, especially when they are pulled out early, are bloody on one end. Second, any look at my kid’s mouth full of cavities and silver teeth, would demonstrate that his baby teeth are not pristine white like this tiny bits of plastic.
Turns out, there was a substitute teacher that day. I emailed his actual teacher and she said she would look for Noah’s tooth. Why wouldn’t the substitute just say, “I couldn’t find the tooth”? How, in any situation, is sending home bits of plastic better than telling the truth? And, if she actually thought it was his tooth, what the hell?
I think we may be leaving a note for the tooth fairy tonight. Which is probably not worth a whole dollar.
UPDATE: Noah’s teacher found the tooth behind the play kitchen in the classroom! She even let him call me from her cell phone with the rest of the class on speakerphone and they all cheered. All is right with the world.
Turkey and Sweet Potatoes
We have been working on a lot of developing at my house. Luke recently got his first 2 teeth and Noah just got his first loose tooth. Luke has been trying to crawl for months but has only ever managed a hefty scoot. Well last night, he officially crawled on his hands and knees while chasing after a football. And Noah has his first flag football game this weekend.
We are busy.
Well, last night, Luke also tried meat for the first time. I have been looking for ways to help him sleep a little bit longer at night because he still gets up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. Gerber makes all kinds of flavors of pureed 2nd-stage baby food that includes a little bit of meat for some added protein. Luke tried turkey and sweet potatoes and seemed to love it.
I watched him closely for a little while after to make sure there were no adverse reactions, Matt and I gave him his bath, and he went to bed right on time. Good night, right?
Well, Luke wakes up at about 11:30pm, which is normal for him. He wasn’t showing his regular signs of being hungry. He was fidgety and wiggly- basically full of gas. Most nights, if he nurses for a minute, it will help him to pass the uncomfortable gas but that just wasn’t working. So, I did all of my gassy-baby tricks. Nothing worked.
Then, when I decided to just give up and snuggle with him, he let out the biggest, wettest, loudest, explosive shit ever and it made Matt sit straight up in bed. Turns out, Luke’s tummy was not a big fan of the turkey and sweet potatoes.
There was yellowish-brown liquid poop all down his leg, and into the footie part of his pajamas. It was everywhere. We get him onto his changing table and he is still squirming a bit. We peel his PJs off him, trying not to cover anything else with poop (failing miserably as we go along), and get his diaper off.
Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the Diaper Genie is full beyond capacity so we have nowhere to put the poopy diaper and the wipes warmer is out of wipes so we have nothing to clean the poop with.
At this point, it’s starting to be hilariously funny because it feels like this stuff only happens to us. We get the wipes refilled, Matt changes the diaper bucket, I get Luke all cleaned up, applying some diaper cream, and then……. Luke has another massive blowout poop all up my arm, all the way to my elbow. Awesome.
Matt takes over and gets Luke another diaper and cleans him up while I get myself cleaned up. We get him in new pajamas and I start rocking him to get him back to sleep. Next thing I hear is another loud, foul-smelling, wet explosion. This one was mostly contained in the diaper but did seep out a bit requiring another pajama change.
It’s well after midnight now and Matt and I are basically giggling at the absurdity of our situation. We get it! You don’t like turkey and sweet potatoes. No need to make such a big deal about it. Surely you’re done (famous last words).
Luke has quit squirming. Seems like the gas and diarrhea are gone. Luke starts sucking on his hands and showing signs of being hungry. He starts to nurse and I see his eyes close as he falls asleep. I can finally let my guard down and relax. Nope.
Luke proceeds to projectile vomit all over me, my pillows, the bed, the headboard, everything. Then, he just falls asleep. Almost like that was the last thing he had to check off of his to-do list for the night.
Meanwhile, I had to change all of my clothes, strip all of my pillows down before finally realizing that it soaked all the way through to the actual pillow, then had to find a new pillow. I could have changed the sheets but we still haven’t washed the other set of sheets from the last time Luke spit up all over them so I just laid a towel down over the mess and went to sleep.
Luke might be a vegetarian now.
Divide and Conquer
The first thing I need to tell anyone who is thinking about having a second child is that the transition from 1 kid to 2 is so much harder (and more complicated) than the transition from baby-free to 1 kid. It is still wonderful and rewarding (and a lot of other things too) but I was not prepared for the insane degree of difficulty that would be involved when trying to navigate a newborn/infant/baby and a young child all at the same time.
When Luke was brand new, he was what some people might call a “Velcro baby.” He had to be attached to me at all times. The moment I set him down, even for a second, he lost his freakin’ mind. He was the happiest baby imaginable as long as I was holding him. Add that on to the fact that Luke is hungry constantly, nurses to soothe himself, and nurses for his snacks between breastfeeding, and I didn’t get a lot done. And, it made it especially difficult to be even a halfway decent parent to our older son, Noah.
To deal with this, Matt and I just went with the “divide and conquer” method of parenting. Noah became his kid. Luke became mine.
Now that Luke is older, he likes to be put down some times so he can play and he doesn’t eat quite as much as he used to (sort of), so Matt and I are able to alternate kids a little more regularly. But it is still overwhelming.
I feel like I can only be a great parent to one kid at a time or a sorta-okay parent to both kids. And I miss my one-on-one time with Noah.
Matt is the one now that knows the kindergarten routine inside and out. He knows which shorts Noah likes to wear to bed and what his favorite TV shows are these days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I don’t have to watch Odd Squad every night but I do miss the snuggles that come along with late night TV.
And while I am the main parent for Luke, that means Matt gets to swoop in when he’s being all cute and adorable and I get the late night feedings and the tearful daycare drop offs (my tears, not Luke’s).
But, Matt can’t parent Noah by himself. It makes it extra difficult because Noah is a high energy kid. And not in a “oh my kid likes to run around a lot” kind of way. Noah has to run around a lot ALL THE TIME. He only has 2 speeds- 90 mph and asleep. There is no middle, no range of energy levels. When we go to trampoline parks or bounce houses, he doesn’t fall asleep on the way home. These kinds of activities just add fuel to his already high-intensity fire.
But, like all things parenting, we are learning as we go. Matt and I have never strived for perfection. Our mantra has always been “do what works” and so far, what we are doing is working. I am sure we will continue to struggle. And we may have a few successes here and there.
In the meantime, we will continue to try to manage on 5 hours of sleep and minimal conversation.